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Cook County’s $25 Gun Tax Goes Into Effect

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Firearms for sale at an area gun shop. (CBS)

Firearms for sale at an area gun shop. (CBS)

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Updated 04/01/13 – 12:41 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Gun sellers and owners haven’t been able to stop it, so a new $25-per-gun tax in Cook County went into effect on Monday.

WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports the new gun tax is estimated to generate $600,000 a year for Cook County. The gun tax ordinance includes an exemption for law enforcement officers who purchase guns in the county.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle pushed the gun tax last fall, as part of her $3 billion budget plan.

Surrounded by gun violence victims and religious leaders at a church in the Pilsen neighborhood, Preckwinkle touted the new gun tax on Monday, but acknowledged it’s not a silver bullet in the fight against gun violence.

“I know this tax will not unilaterally solve the violence issue that we face in Chicago and Cook County, but it’s a piece of the puzzle,” she said.

Yolan Henry – whose daughter, Nova, and granddaughter, Ava, were shot and killed in 2009 – voiced her support for the new tax.

“I am here today to speak for my daughter, Nova Henry; her daughter, Ava Safiyah Henry-Curry; and a multitude of other victims that have been killed previously, and afterwards,” she said.

Nova Henry, the ex-girlfriend of former Bulls player Eddy Curry, was killed in her South Loop townhouse in January 2009. Fredrick Goings, an attorney Nova Henry hired in a child support case against Curry, has been convicted of killing Nova and Ava when he learned Nova had hired another attorney, and was planning to contest $24,000 in legal fees charged by Goings.

Preckwinkle has said revenue from the firearm tax would help pay for the costs of treating gunshot victims at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, as well as for the costs for gun-related law enforcement and prosecutions.

Gun sellers and owners have sued Cook County over the tax plan, saying it violates residents’ Second Amendment rights. They noted in their lawsuit that supporters of the gun tax have said it should reduce the number of guns in circulation, a sign it would infringe on the right to bear arms.

Commissioner Edwin Reyes (D-8th) told the Sun-Times the county should consider repealing the tax if the cost of defending the lawsuit would be greater than the revenue the tax would bring in.

Preckwinkle was expected to tout the new tax at an event at a South Side church, alongside a number of victims of gun violence.

The county also has targeted straw purchasers – people who buy guns legally, then sell them to others who can’t – by imposing fines of up to $2,000 for failing to report the transfer, loss, or theft of a gun.

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